Familial Mediterranean fever (FMF), also called recurrent polyserositis, is an inherited disorder that causes swelling in the body, especially in the lungs and abdomen. Inherited disorders are passed down from parents to their children.
FMF primarily occurs in individuals of Mediterranean ancestry. Researchers estimate that the disorder occurs in one out 500 Armenians, one out of 1,000 Turks, one out of 2,600 Arabs, one out of 250-2,000 Sephardic Jews, and one out of 73,000 Ashkenazi Jews.
The disorder is more common in men than women; researchers estimate that males are 1.5-2 times more likely to develop the disorder than females.
Although patients are born with the disorder, symptoms generally do not appear until the individual is between five and 15 years old. Symptoms generally include recurrent fevers and painful inflammation of the abdomen, lungs, and joints. FMF is not considered a fatal disease, but it can be debilitating, especially if it is not properly managed with treatment.
While there is currently no cure for the disease, life-long treatment with a medication called colchicine has been shown to alleviate symptoms. Colchicine helps reduce inflammation associated with the disorder. Before colchicine was first used as a treatment for FMF in 1972, almost all patients died by age 50 from nephrotic syndrome (disorder that causes kidney dysfunction).
For some FMF patients, the frequency and the severity of symptoms may lessen with age or during pregnancy. It is unknown why symptoms may improve.
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